This ship needs a new captain

  • The PTI as done poorly on all fronts

By Mustafa Abdullah Baloch

“The ship is safest when it is in port, but that is not what ships were built for’ ‘─ Paulo Coelho

If a leader is elected then it is incumbent upon him to deliver and not just play to the galleries with empty rhetoric and hollow hopes. Half the way in the ocean and the captain of the ship reveals that he is inexperienced: that definitely gives goose bumps to the people sailing in the ship; here the ship is Pakistan and the inexperienced captain is Imran Khan who is taking Pakistan to a cul de sac.

2020 in many ways has been a curse internationally due to the pandemic, but in this part of the world the effects of the pandemic were compounded by the inefficiency of Khan’s government but now that the world has entered a new year, the people have started looking for other political options which has given an opportunity to the PDM to emerge as a saviour. But at the same time we must learn from history and extract the reasons why today we are surrounded by multiple challenges.

The pandemic has changed the tune of life for individuals from all walks of life. Things have changed and so have the priorities. But what hasn’t changed is the desire to dwell better in life and to strive for stability. Now for this any country needs a statesman who would keep his personal interests aside and prioritize his countrymen. Unfortunately in Pakistan an egoistic and inept captain has been thrust upon the people of Pakistan who, 30 months after remaning in power, has himself conceded he was not prepared for running the state’s affairs.

With countless flaws and historic misgovernance there is much to talk about the current government’s poor performance, and if we analyze the upcoming events and do some wargaming on the face-off between the PDM and Khan’s regime, the enraged Fazl, ambitious Maryam and charged Bilawal have set the battlefield ablaze but the other player dwelling in a lavish palace somewhere in Islamabad’s Red Zone seems a bit worried as he has lost the confidence and public support. So the question is, what is the plan?

It will be an uphill task to pull Pakistan out of this catastrophic situation, so this government must realise that constant bickering and poor governance will lead us nowhere. This ship needs a new captain who must be competent enough to sail it through rough seas

March or no march? JUI(F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. who has nothing to lose, will try to compel other parties in the PDM to resign, while the PPP, having stakes in Sindh and chances of getting the second position in the coming Senate, cannot afford to resign before March leaving the Sindh government and giving space to its opponents. It will be a big price to ask for. Apparently the resignation card is kept for sometime later, now the question is will the PDM march towards the capital and if so, what are they expecting? Resignation of the PM or re-election? Well, the PML(N) favours the latter but many may prefer a subtle change through this present Parliament. Suppose if the long march hits the nail on the head by successfully gathering a mass crowd marching towards Islamabad then will they look up to the umpire’s decision or would they rely on the public support? Perhaps, too many questions and possibilities on the turf between the two. But our history shows that marches and sit-ins have weakened the government, but the PM has never resigned. Will this march be an exception? So what’s the PDM’s strategy? Maybe it wants to build pressure by flexing some muscle and showing relevance to the powerhouses, meanwhile engaging the already miffed government allies as we recently saw them in talks with the PDM.

So far the PDM wants to remain part of the system by contesting by-elections and not leaving ground in the Senate which might not risk the already fragile democracy. Meanwhile some panic moves are taken by the government by preponing senate elections and launching federal ministers for counter press conferences, raising the temperature and widening the gap between the two sides.

Also PM being desperate for implementing show of hand in senate polls raises quite a few eyebrows, it seems he himself is not quite sure about the level of commitment and loyalty of his own MPs and he may be afraid of losing the slot of Chairman Senate.

What if PDM rules out the idea of a march, raises the temperature in Parliament and attracts the government allies step by step, to call it off and form a new alliance and this time starting from Punjab. The Chaudhries can easily jump off from the tabdeeli bus and hop into the Orange Line. All they need is to change the roles in Punjab, the speaker can be the new CM. This would be a huge blow to Khan who adores the second Waseem Akram plus more than anyone. Rumour has it that quite a few PTI legislators are ready to ditch Khan and vote for the other side in the National Assembly. Probably Kaptaan knows that his hollow regime won’t stand a day if his allies hear whispers to choose the other side. But let’s not forget that in politics timing matters the most, and if the PDM kicks off with its long march before March then they might have to compromise on te senate, but if they focus on the Senate first and later hit the streets, then it can be a game changer. In the second scenario PDM can be in a secure position with politically correct moves. But it all depends on right decision and right timing, keeping the resignation card for the final bout.

It’s not just the political zone where Pakistan is facing a challenge, there is an extraordinary economic crisis to overcome, as rising unemployment and investor discomfort has severely affected the life of common people. The economic meltdown is the Achilles heel of this regime with historic inflation and low ‘ease of doing business’ ratings. The local business community have been discouraged by the uncertain financial policies and hefty taxes. The motor industry being badly affected pushing makers to halt their production and increase the prices leading to lowest sales ever witnessed.

PTI spokespersons often hide the government’s incompetence behind the novel coronavirus, but the disaster occurred before pandemic with the dollar exchange rate going sky high, petrol prices shooting up and constant price increase of grocery items and lot more. The most important challenge for this government would be to manage the vaccination process for which the NCOC (National Command & Operation Centre) is lagging behind. Planning Minister Asad Umar, who is in the driving seat of NCOC recently announced procurement of 1.2 million Covid19 vaccines (Sinopharm) by the first quarter of 2021 from China with a 79 percent efficiency rate for a country with approximately 220 million population. Bangladesh is procuring 30 million, Turkey 50 million and Malaysia 19 million vaccine doses. Tis shows we are nowhere close to the rest of the world in fighting the pandemic. Supply chain and logistics would be another task as the above mentioned vaccine requires 2-8°C storage temperature which would be quite difficult to maintain in remote areas where there is no electricity. Apparently the NCOC has not been well prepared for the vaccination process. The indecisive and reluctant attitude of Asad Umar gives a sense of déjà vu after his failure as Finance Minister. Also, it would have been better if the PM would have diverted the the 5 billion budget from Ravi City to procure nore vaccines and provide sufficient cold storage facilities across the country

then Pakistan has to uplift its foreign relations in 2021 as the global dynamics are changing post-corona and lately Pakistan’s foreign diplomacy had been a nonstarter with the Arab countries who earlier had been friends in tough times, and all this is the result of weak diplomacy and incompetent leadership.

It will be an uphill task to pull Pakistan out of this catastrophic situation, so this government must realise that constant bickering and poor governance will lead us nowhere. This ship needs a new captain who must be competent enough to sail it through rough seas.

The writer is a columnist and social activist

Twitter: MustafaBaloch_

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